The decision to grant reparation to thousands of victims in the case against former Chadian president Hissène Habré marks a significant moment in their long and determined quest for justice, Amnesty International said today.
“Today’s decision is a significant step in enabling the victims of crimes in the case against Hissène Habré to move on with their lives,” said Erica Bussey Amnesty International Senior Legal Advisor Africa. “It is also a victory for the victims of human rights violations all over the world as it demonstrates the urgent need for reparation even when decades have passed since the crimes were committed.”
Today’s decision is a significant step in enabling the victims of crimes in the case against Hissène Habré to move on with their livesErica Bussey Amnesty International Senior Legal Advisor Africa
The Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar today granted the civil party victims of rape and sexual violence in the case 20 million FCFA each (33,880 USD), the civil party victims of arbitrary detention, torture, prisoners of war and survivors in the case 15 million FCFA each (25,410 USD) and the indirect victims 10 million FCFA each (16,935 USD). The EAC rejected the civil parties’ request for collective reparations.
Habré was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed between 1982 and 1990 and sentenced to life imprisonment by the EAC on 30 May 2016.
The written verdict and reparation decision will be made available on the EAC website shortly.
Amnesty International urges the EAC, the African Union, the government of Chad and the international community to take the necessary steps to ensure that sufficient resources are raised and allocated to a Trust Fund from which the reparations will likely be drawn so that the decision can be implemented.
“While this is a welcome step, it must be acknowledged that Habré was not the sole perpetrator of atrocities. It is crucial that pressure is maintained on Chad, and other states, to investigate and prosecute others accused of committing serious human rights violations between 1982 and 1990, and in particular killings committed in September 1984 in the South of the country,” said Erica Bussey.
“The government of Chad must contribute its part of the US$125 million reparations ordered last year by the country’s court to 7,000 victims in a case convicting 20 Habré-era agents on counts including murder, kidnapping and torture”.
The EAC was created in 2012 by an agreement between the African Union and the Government of Senegal. The trial against Hissene Habré opened on 20 July 2015, and 69 victims, 23 witnesses and 10 expert witnesses testified during the proceedings.
Among other evidence, the Prosecution relied upon research reports from Amnesty International from the 1980s. A former Amnesty International staff member also testified during the trial as an expert witness.
The case was the first universal jurisdiction case on the continent and the first conviction of a former head of state by an African court for crimes against humanity. It also prompted the Chadian authorities, after permitting decades of impunity, to finally investigate alleged crimes and prosecute other suspects, which resulted in convictions in March 2015 of 20 Habré-era security agents on charges of murder, torture, kidnapping and arbitrary detention.
The government of Chad must contribute its part of the US$125 million reparations ordered last year by the country’s court to 7,000 victims in a case convicting 20 Habré-era agents on counts including murder, kidnapping and tortureErica Bussey
The court issued an oral verdict on 30 May 2016, but has yet to issue a full written judgment. All parties had an opportunity to make submissions during the reparations proceedings, but no oral hearings were held.
Hissène Habré’s lawyers have appealed his conviction. Amnesty International considers that sufficient resources must be allocated to the EAC so that it completes the appeal, fully and effectively.